In scenes more commonly associated with a celebrity death or the break-up of a boy-band, fans, mourners, and competitors alike, gathered together today in a show of support following the shock announcement that technology pioneer Lord Sir Alan Sugar was stepping down from his position at the head of the global technology giant Amstrad.
Founded in 1968, by Alan Sugar and his school friend, Alun Webber, it was during the 1980s that Amstrad went on to consolidate its now long-held position as market leader with its range of PCW home computers and word processors, and the hugely popular Amstrad 7070 tape deck.
The name ‘Amstrad’, originally coined by Alan Sugar, was later revealed to be a contraction of the phrase ‘Alan Michael Sugar is Totally RAD’, and following their huge early success, went on to become a regular source of contention between the two founders.
Despite a stock market flotation in 1980, Alan and Alun’s fortunes began to falter a decade later in the early 1990s, when in-fighting resulted firstly with a failed attempt to join the video games console market, and then later a handheld PDA called the PenPad which basically just wasn’t really any good.
Sadly, Amstrad PLC was wound up in 1997.
At the turn of the millennium, Amstrad LTD, now privately owned, attempted to move into the rapidly expanding telephony market with the launch of their E-m@iler, a fixed-line telephone and email device which proved to be a terrible and ill thought-out idea, and should never have gone into production in the first place. Unsurprisingly, it never caught on, perhaps also in part due to the superfluous hyphen used in the omnipresent branding.
By 2007 Amstrad’s sole source of revenue had been reduced to the fees received by 64-year-old Sugar for his regular appearances on the BBC television series Dragon’s Den.
Despite rumours of a forthcoming launch of the long-awaiting Amstablet, a tablet computer with detachable mouse expected by some to outsell Apple’s iPad, and revered by many as the saviour of the British personal computing industry, it seems to have now become all too much for the former market trader from Hackney, east London.
Lord Sir Alan Sugar has cited personal reasons for the decision and is widely expected to retire graciously from the public eye and dedicate his newfound free time to his favourite leisure pursuits, namely cycling, reciprocal back-patting with fellow 'Dragons', and bickering with Piers Morgan on Twitter.
A replacement has yet to be named for his role but it is thought unlikely his blundering son Simon Sugar will be a candidate, following his involvement in the ongoing Amscreen shambles he part-owns with his father, which attempts to sell advertising space on a giant imaginary screen located somewhere in Essex.